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How are businesses really using my data?

From online shopping to hotel or flight check-in and tailored products and services, the analysis of our data ‘footprint’ and profile is revolutionising the relationship between businesses and consumers.

But there is a loud debate underway about how businesses are using their customers’ data. Industry and policy-makers alike need to do more to engage with the ongoing conversation, tackle misunderstandings and highlight the vast opportunity and potential for consumers and citizens that data-driven innovation can bring.

So, how are businesses really using your data? The truth is, most businesses are using data analysis to improve their products and services. Using securely stored and anonymous information in this way helps to boost sales – which in turn raises standards for consumers, grows businesses and creates jobs. Here are 4 ways that businesses are using your data:

1. To tailor services and save you money Try to think about your summer holiday this year. Have you booked yet? A cheap deal might have landed in your inbox or the flight comparison site might have remembered you from the last time you checked prices so you didn’t have to re-enter your query. Perhaps your favourite hotel already knew that you’d like a non-smoking room with a late check out from the last time you stayed. It might not sound like much, but all these little tweaks and perks are what we’ve come to expect from our on-line interactions, and they’re powered by data.

2. To cure disease

Data-use in pharmaceuticals, clinical testing, and other areas of medical research and development is making it quicker, more efficient and therefore cheaper to produce ground-breaking treatments. From monitoring trends among certain age groups, geographic locations and lifestyles, clinicians are more able than ever to predict what might go wrong and when, allowing doctors to make targeted interventions with a patient, before they even get ill.

3. To improve education outcomes for kids Tracking data trends can also predict how well your child will do at school, and what interventions can be made and when to make their journey through education quicker and ‘smarter’. Making the education system work better for our kids and ensuring they are ready for success in life and work should be a key plank our country’s economic strategy too.

4. To transform our public services

The lessons that are being learned in the private sector are also able to be applied in the public sector, transforming our public services and making them work for the taxpayer. Whether it’s joining up health and social care services, improving flood defence systems or co-ordinating our traffic lights – data has the power to improve access to and delivery of our essential services.


So what do you think about the way that companies use your data? What do you find helpful and what makes you concerned?

Tell us what you think @bizdebate, or by leaving comments in the box below.

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